Tips for road trips with kids

Father securing daughter in rear child seat before road trip

Half the fun of a holiday is the road trip you take on your way to your destination. But if you don’t want to hear countless rounds of “are we there yet?” and petty arguments, try some of our handy tips for road trips with kids.

Plan ahead

Do a practice run

If you haven’t taken your kids on a long car journey before, try a practice run before you go on your big trip. Take a short day out somewhere an hour or two away to see how your kids cope with being in the car for longer periods of time. 

Know your route

Make sure you’re confident about where you’re going. Try planning your route around where to stop to grab something to eat, where there are bathrooms available or even just places to get out of the car and stretch your legs. 

Let your kids know what to expect

Tell your kids in advance how the road trip will play out. Let them know how long it’ll take to get there, how many stops you’re going to make and how many snacks and drinks they can have on the journey. 

Pack smart 

Have your kids pack their own activities 

Give each of your kids their own bag to pack. Make sure they’re the same size and style but different colours so there’s minimal fighting and allow them to pack their own snacks, drinks and activities – it’ll be one less thing for you to worry about!

Don’t forget about yourself

If you’re not driving, you’ll need to entertain yourself too. Don’t forget to pack a book and some snacks. You can even use the time to catch up on life admin or replying to some emails.   

Make your own fun

Pass the time with games 

Invent your own games to keep the kids occupied. Instead of the usual games like I, Spy try something new like spelling words using the number plates or inventing stories for passengers in other cars.

Get musical 

There’s only so many times you can listen to your kids latest Disney song obsession. Instead, have them make a playlist of songs before you go on the road trip, with enough songs to keep everyone happy and with enough variety you don’t get bored.

Use surprises

If you stop for petrol, surprise your kids by letting them pick something from the shop as a treat. You can also pre-pack your own surprises if they start to get antsy in the back of the car. 

Make your kids the focus

The best way to keep your kids happy on a road trip is to let them have a little bit of control over it, that way they feel as though they’re getting what they want.

Let them pick where to eat

If you’re planning on stopping for food, let your kids choose the place you eat. You can also let them choose small things like which radio station to listen to or snacks to pack for the drive.

Have one-on-one time with them

If your vehicle allows it, sit next to your children and engage with them while you’re on the move. Kids can get bored easily so a change of pace like a card game or a puzzle (anything that involves two people) can help to keep them calm and happy.

Need some game ideas? Try these

  • I, Spy – try switching it up and use both letters and colours. 
  • Who Am I? – Pick a famous person (real or fictional) and have the other passengers ask yes or no questions to figure out who you are. 
  • The Number Plate Game – there’s two ways to play this; the first way is to see who can get from A to Z the quickest using only the number plates you can see. The second is to see who can spell the longest word using only letters on the number plates of the surrounding vehicles. 
  • Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? – similar to Who Am I?, but you can be anything as long as it can be classified as an animal (including humans) a vegetable (any kind of plant) or a mineral (pretty much everything else). 
  • Old MacDonald’s Farm – get your kids to keep track of any animals they see while you’re driving and by the time you reach your destination they’ll have their very own collection of farm animals.

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